What does God look like? Can anyone answer this question? I John 3 says “When He appears we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.” The implication is that we cannot see God as He is because we are mortal and He is eternal. It is only when we shed this earthly body for an eternal body that we will be able to see and to contemplate God.
The same question can be asked of Heaven, and the same concept applies: If Heaven is His dwelling place, than it must be that we cannot truly picture or understand what it will be like. It was with this knowledge of our own limitations that John, through the Holy Spirit, described it this way:
“Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal clear jasper. It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gate twelve angels, and names were written on them, which ware the names of the twelve tribes of Israel . There were three gates on the East and three gates on the North and three gates on the South and three gates on the West. The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper, the second; sapphire, the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysophrase; the eleventh, jacinth and the twelfth, amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.” (Revelation 21)
This description of gemstones and precious metals is not intended to make us believe that we are going to spend eternity in a high dollar jewelry store: rather, to describe, in words we can understand, the beauty, the perfection, the splendor of Heaven. We can’t picture the real thing, but we can all get a taste of it. It is incredible to think that it will be even more beautiful than it is described!
Perhaps most significant and encouraging to the faithful is the passage that precedes this one, in verses 3-4: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people and God Himself will be among them. And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain, for the first things have passed away.”
This is truly the promise of Heaven, and that which we can understand now: an end to sorrow, to mourning, death and suffering. There is much we cannot know until we get there, but of this we are sure: Heaven is where the faithful will spend eternity in the presence of the Creator free from death and sorrow. How beautiful indeed.
– Stefano R. Mugnaini